The 4 Best Plank Variations You Can Do Anywhere
Learn the 4 best plank variations including planks for beginners, active plank variations and more advanced planks to add to your plank progression.
August 16, 2021
3 min

Planks are always overlooked. Everyone knows the squat. And who could forget the timeless classic: push-ups.

But planks need love too! 

And you’d be smart to love them… planks provide all kinds of benefits including improved balance, better posture and an easy full body exercise option you can do anywhere.

Plus there’s tons of plank variations to make sure your planks are targeting the right areas for your workout plan and keeping your fitness practice fun.

In this article you’ll learn the 4 best plank variations that will help you refresh your plank form and target some of the most important muscles in your body.

Let’s get started!

The 4 best planks variations

1. Incline planks

Just like incline push-ups, incline planks offer an easier alternative to standard planks. 

If you’re new to planks and want to ease into the exercise, incline planks will help you get used to the movement and some of the important muscles you’ll be targeting as you progress.

Here’s how to do an incline plank:

  1. Find a sturdy and comfortable surface like the edge of a couch or bed
  2. Rest your forearms on the edge of the surface
  3. Extend your legs behind you to create a straight line between your head and your heels
  4. Hold for your desired duration

Try incline planks before you get into some of the more moderate variations on this list. Use them to find your correct form and learn what your limits are for other plank variations.

2. Side planks

Side planks are one of the easiest and most beneficial plank variations.

They take classic plank form and flip it on its side to target your hips, shoulders and back, with a slightly more difficult variation.

How to do a side plank:

  1. Start by laying on your right side flat on the floor or mat
  2. Straighten your legs and stack your left foot on top of your right foot
  3. Prop your upper body up by extending your right forearm perpendicular to your body
  4. Press into the floor with your forearm and raise your hip upwards
  5. Hold for your desired duration
  6. Lower your hip to the floor and return to the starting position
  7. Repeat on your left side

Side planks can be done as active planks reps, or in a held position to give you different types of workouts. 

Held side planks are great for balance while doing them as reps will give you a higher intensity workout with added cardio.

Make sure you keep your hips on top of one another and try to avoid letting it rotate in front of you to get the most from this variation.

3. Bird Dog Planks

You probably already know how to do bird dogs because they’re a perfect, quick and easy movement break you can do anywhere. 

If you don’t know how, make sure you learn how to do bird dogs before you try this plank variation.

How to do bird dog planks:

  1. Start in plank position with your feet shoulder width apart
  2. Lift and extended your right arm while lifting your left leg until they are parallel to the floor
  3. Lower your arm and leg back to the starting position
  4. Repeat for your left arm and right leg

Bird dog planks are a more active plank and can be done in sets of reps with breaks in between. 

Bird dog planks target your hips and core and offer a slightly more intensive exercise than standard bird dogs, so make sure you’ve aced normal bird dogs and active planks first.

4. Up & Down Planks

Up and down planks give you a perfect progression to add some reps to your planks and get a higher intensity burn from your movements.

Like the name says, up & down planks take the standard plank pose and add up and down motion using your arms.

How to do up and down planks:

  1. Start in plank position resting on your forearms with your hands in front of you
  2. Starting with your right side, push your shoulder up and straighten your arm so your hand is flat on the floor
  3. Repeat with your left arm until both arms are extended
  4. Bend your right arm back down to your forearm
  5. Repeat with your left arm and return to your starting position

Up & down planks offer all the benefits of standard planks, including the ability to complete reps and add more motion to your plank workouts. 

More movement means increased cardio, so add up & down planks to your movement break rotation for a fun and effective variation.

For a more advanced plank variation, try decline planks. They’re the same as incline planks, but reversed: your feet are inclined while your upper body stays low. 

Decline planks are more difficult than incline planks and other plank variations, so make sure you master standard plank form before you try decline planks.

Plank yourself and thank yourself

Try these plank variations and enjoy better core strength, improved balance and the feeling of being more active.

Whether you’re doing standard planks or active planks, these variations will help you avoid workout boredom and stay motivated to move more throughout your week!


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